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EU Fines Microsoft $732.2 Million: Hot Trends

Stocks in this article: MSFT SPLS

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Popular searches on the Internet include Microsoft (MSFT) after the European Union fined the company €561 million ($732.2 million) for failing to offer consumers a choice of Web browser.

European Union regulators said Microsoft had made a legally binding agreement in 2009 to give consumers a choice of browser, which an investigation found it failed to do between May 2011 and July 2012. It is the first time the EU has fined a company for not complying with commitments reached in antitrust decisions. The EU said as a result of Microsoft's non-compliance with the voluntary agreement, at least 15 million people didn't have the option to choose another browser besides Internet Explorer.

The amount of the fine is not as heavy as it could have been. The EU could have charged Microsoft as much as $7.9 billion.

Microsoft said a technical error caused the failure and it has already put in stricter internal controls to prevent it from happening again. The company said it takes "full responsibility" for the failure.

ADP is trending as the payroll processor said businesses added 198,000 jobs in February, beating economists' forecasts of 173,000 job gains for the month.

The trade and transportation sector added the most jobs at 45,000, followed by professional and business services, which added 35,000. Small and midsize businesses posted the most job gains for the second month in a row. Small businesses added 77,000 jobs, mid-sized businesses added 65,000 and large companies added 57,000.

Looking ahead, the Labor Department's February employment survey comes out on Friday. The ADP report is often seen as a possible preview of the jobs report.

Staples (SPLS) is another popular search. The company reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income that dropped 72%, largely weighed down by weak sales in North American and Europe, as well as store closings and other related charges.

Staples' adjusted results still managed to beat Wall Street expectations. The company reported earnings of $78.1 million, or 12 cents a share, down from $283.6 million, or 41 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding charges, earnings from continuing operations were 46 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates of 45 cents.

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